September 18, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) celebrates a touchdown against Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Ford Field. Detroit Lions won 48-3 Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Lions Looking Good in Fantasy Football Rankings


It seems that things like back to school promotions and Christmas merchandise get pushed out earlier and earlier every year. You can add fantasy football to that list.

The NFL is big business and whether fantasy football is a contributing factor or an end result, its place in the mainstream can’t be ignored. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I received an email notification from Yahoo! that they opened up fantasy football registration as of June 1 but I was. Albeit ridiculously early, it is still a good reminder that football’s return is approaching.

I am currently the first to join Yahoo Public League 6287 and there are “just” 81 days until my live draft. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be using all that time to prepare for my draft. I simply joined to get a look at where some Lions players are currently rated.

Not surprisingly, Calvin Johnson is the highest rated Detroit Lion according to the early default rankings for a standard head to head league on Yahoo! fantasy football. He checks in at number five overall, four spots higher than the next wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald. That makes for a lofty draft position for a wide receiver but another year like 2011 from CJ and fantasy owners will be richly rewarded. The league has shifted in the last few years and running backs no longer dominate fantasy football like they once did. That makes a freak like Johnson a good grab in the first round.

Can you guess the next highest rated Lion? I’m sure you can, it’s Matthew Stafford at number 16 overall. That makes Stafford the fifth rated fantasy quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Cam Newton. Five quarterbacks are a lot to pack into the top 16 players overall but they start to thin out after Stafford. Michael Vick is ranked sixth at 48th overall followed by Eli Manning at 54 and big brother Peyton at 55. It’s an interesting stratification of quarterbacks and Yahoo! definitely sees Stafford in that first tier.

Brandon Pettigrew also holds an early ranking as a starting caliber TE. He’s ranked ninth at his position and 97th overall. The Detroit Lions defense also ranks ninth among its position peers. Despite their troubles defending the pass late in the 2011 season, the Lions defense produced a lot of fantasy points thanks to sacks, interceptions and defensive touchdowns.

The Lions’ situation at running back has received a lot of attention this offseason. On one hand they have a group with great abilities. On the other hand, each has a history of injury concerns. How does the fantasy football community view this group? Not very favorably, as it turns out. Jahvid Best is the highest rated Detroit Lions running back at number 30 (84 overall), followed by Mikel Leshoure at number 37 (98 overall) and Kevin Smith at number 71 (209 overall). Best probably represents the greatest risk/reward proposition while Leshoure could turn out to be a safe bench option, especially if pressed into a bigger role.

Jason Hanson is the number 12 kicker and could be a great last round grab. Nate Burleson (#50 WR, 135 overall) and Titus Young (#52 WR, 139 overall) could also be worthy of an opening day roster spot.

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Tags: Brandon Pettigrew Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Fantasy Football Jahvid Best Jason Hanson Kevin Smith Matthew Stafford Mikel Leshoure